D.C. Mayor Softens Stance on Release of Police Body Cam Video | NBC4 Washington
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D.C. Mayor Softens Stance on Release of Police Body Cam Video

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Body cameras are still being rolled out in the district, and there has been intense debate about who would get to see that video. Now, Mayor Muriel Bowser is dramatically changing her position about what video should become public. As Tom Sherwood reports, she has softened her position after negotiations with the council. (Published Monday, Aug. 10, 2015)

    In a memo disclosed Monday, D.C.’s mayor softened her stance against releasing police body camera video

    Earlier this year, Mayor Muriel Bowser and Police Chief Cathy Lanier proposed almost all city police officers on patrol wear the cameras, but Bowser balked at making any of it public through Freedom of Information Act requests. The D.C. Council insisted there could be no blanket denial and said new rules must be in place before Oct. 1 before the cameras can be used.

    Bowser’s new proposal would exempt only police video that involves domestic violence, sexual assaults, stalking or other similar cases in order to protect those victims.

    "My team has been working tirelessly to develop a set of policies that strike the right balance between privacy and transparency," she said in a statement to News4.

    Judiciary Committee Chairman Kenyan McDuffie welcomed Bowser's compromise but suggested it still may not go far enough, saying cellphone cameras are everywhere.

    “Anyone with a camera can record something that happens on a sidewalk where people interact with the police,” he said.

    McDuffie stressed that police and police unions believe body cam video can protect the officers, too.

    “One of the most important aspects of having a robust body-worn camera is that the officers are protected from false complaints,” he said.

    How much it will cost to store police video and to make it available to the public without cost or minimal fees remains unsolved.